Just prior to the 1983 National Championships, while training like a mad man and ignoring all the signs of overtraining, Derrick fractured his L4 vertebra and ruptured the L4-5 disc, rendering him unable to walk. Heavy doses of prescribed cortisone for the next year enabled him to regain painful walking and lifting, but lead to Cushing’s syndrome, and intense knee pain.
At the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, CA, Derrick received cortisone injections into the infrapatellar ligament of his right knee eight days prior to competition. Assured by the medical team that nothing would go wrong, he competed. Disaster struck. During Derrick’s first lift of the competition, as he was beginning to explode upwards with the barbell, he felt a quick rip in his leg, and saw his leg descend into a dark hole in the platform, and scores of splinters fly upwards. As the bar continued upward overhead, he was unable to fix the barbell. In an instant, the bar came crashing down and shot him backwards, flipping him onto his stomach. Convinced that the platform broke, he looked up to discover the platform was fine; it was he that was broken. He tried to get up, but instantaneous and intense knee pain prevented any change in leg position. He tried to sit up, but felt as if his right arm was nailed to the platform. He looked at his arm to discover it was dislocated at the elbow. The medics put his elbow back in place, and Derrick hobbled off the platform and down the stairs. He hopped onto a stretcher and into retirement, or so it seemed.